I didn’t plan on writing about 9/11. I really never thought I would. But here I sit, on the 15th anniversary of that awful day and I can’t help but reflect:
We’ve lost our innocence.
I remember being at work when it happened, hearing, “A plane hit the World Trade Center!” and thinking, “Oh no, it must have been a new pilot in a Cessna or something…” It was a time when my mind just couldn’t go to a place where commercial airplanes filled with passengers could be intentionally flown into buildings.
I remember sitting in a bar with my brother a couple of weeks later, pondering “What’s so wrong about being American? What’s wrong with hanging out and having a beer? Why do they hate us?” It didn’t take long to learn why; all we had to do was start paying attention. Recently, I read something (sorry, I can’t remember where), a conversation that was had between a Westerner and someone from the Middle East. The person from the Middle East commented about how we Westerners love hero sagas so well, like Star Wars. The Rebels against the evil Empire; we see ourselves as the Rebels. But elsewhere in the world they see us as the Empire. That startled me at first, but if you look at it from their perspective, it does kind of make sense.
I remember going to the doctor four days after 9/11, and having the highest blood pressure reading I’d ever had. I commented about it, and the nurse said everyone who’d been in that week had high readings. When I compare my reaction to 9/11 to the Boston Marathon bombing that happened just a couple of miles from where I live, an event that impacted me in a much more personal way…I am shocked to find that I was more upset by 9/11. I remember telling myself as I watched the bombing coverage, “OK, that’s enough, there’s nothing new, it’s just a loop. If you keep watching you’ll make yourself crazy. Remember how it was after 9/11. Be informed, but not inundated.” It’s not that I wasn’t overcome with anger, disgust and sadness, but I realized I needed to manage my reaction.
I’ve learned how to Keep Calm and Carry On.
How incredibly sad.
I never wanted to be that tough, not about human lives. I guess it’s a matter of self-preservation. We have to look at the world differently now.
I’m nostalgic by nature. It’s difficult to not wistfully think of the time “before” when life was simple. Or to constantly wonder, “What’s going on, why are these things happening?”
As they say, life goes on.
Being forced into a new world view probably helped me dig myself out of a rut. In the years since, I found the courage to go back to school, and ultimately to relocate half way across the country. Those things didn’t happen because of 9/11, but looking back across the years I see the gradual shift in my thinking from “I have time,” to “now or never.”
How has your life changed?